You say Absaroka (Ab-sor-key), I say Absaroka (Ab-sa-row-ka), but if you are from Montana you might say Absaroka (Ab-Zur-Kas). This was the dilemma as I began the next page. First, if I don’t know the correct pronunciation of the mountain range where the Yellowstone River begins, then how am I supposed to rhyme anything with the unpronounceable name? Second, what rhymes with this word, even if I knew how to officially pronounce it? Polka? C’mon!
Anyways, back to the lecture at hand: Water begins it’s work as snow, high up on the peaks unpronounceably named by the Crow Nation many years ago. Spring comes knocking. Freeze, thaw, melt. Erode, drip, gush. The water shapes the mountains on it’s way to forming the headwaters for the longest undammed river in the U.S.! So without further adieu, spread #3 sans any mention of Amalamadingdong names.
“So Ranger Roy, where does the story begin?”
“I’m happy to answer such a good question!”
“Winter snow piles high on these peaks in the sky,
but spring melts the snow in the blink of an eye!
Frommers makes really great books on how to plan your vacation. They get one thing wrong though. Their books always have a section titled “If You Only Have One Day….” Do yourself and your kids a favor. Stop the car! Unplug from our hyper-connected, instant gratification lifestyle for more than one day when you visit Yellowstone, or any National Park. When kids grow up, memories are often filled with thoughts of summer vacations. It’s your choice to make their trip to Yellowstone a dud or make their vacation memories a staple conversation at family gatherings (in a good way).
Want to be the hero and not the zero? Try some of these Yellowstone activities for kids on for size! This list is clearly incomplete. Please chime in with fun things you or your kids have done in Yellowstone!
1. Sit in natural hot tub! The Boiling River meets the Gardner River near Mammoth Hot Springs. Look for the parking area just to the east of the sign marking the 45th parallel.
2. Picnic on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake above 7000 feet in North America! I have seen Bald Eagles and Osprey here. You might even a snag a cutthroat trout with your snoopy pole if you are lucky. Provided you have a fishing license of course.
3. Drive the valleys. Its where the wild things are! Bison abound by the hundreds in the Hayden Valley. Watch for a pull out that is bursting with cars and lots of people holding binoculars. Why? The canyon wolf pack has moved into the Hayden Valley and this parking lot is the best vantage point. They are often too small to see in the distance but I was able to watch a few wolves challenge an elk with just my zoomed in video camera. The second must see valley is the Lamar Valley. Grizzlies, bison, wolves and elk frequent this area. Not to mention the valley is surrounded by pretty mountain views!
4. Ice Cream! Mammoth village, Canyon Village and Tower Falls gift shop are three of my favorite places to get a cone. I’m sure there is more places to get some ice cream, who wants to help me investigate?
5. Campfires. Evening programs in the campgrounds showcase local Rangers talking about Yellowstone. You will definitely learn a thing or two. I once learned that a American marten needs to eat twice it’s weight in a day in order to survive! Campfires can also be a fun place to tell stories, eat s’mores and look at the stars!
6. Hike! There are numerous paved or boardwalk trails in Yellowstone. When you get to a new area of the park, check out the visitor center and talk to a Ranger. They will have the best suggestions for your skill level.
7. Sidetrip? Jackson Hole and Cody, Wy both have excellent rodeos. Mutton bustin’ is something your child will never forget.
8 See our facebook page for other suggestions.
What have your children enjoyed in Yellowstone? Any good stories you would like to share? We would *love* to hear them!
Yellowstone National Park is a strange and beautiful place. Hiking in the park is like walking on the cover of a pot of boiling water. Hot water bubbles beneath you. Eventually the water just has to get out! Steam rises from the top and water gushes out of the pot and pools on the stove. Parts of Yellowstone are like a big pot of water. Super hot liquid rock called magma heats the water like a burner on a stove. The hot water just has to get out of the ground! When the water bubbles and sprays out of the ground it is called a geyser (comes from an Icelandic word, geysa: meaning to gush!). Sometimes the hot water pools on the surface. These pools are called hot springs. Hot water cools as it reaches the surface, sinks, and is replaced by hotter water from below. This process (called convection), keeps the hot water from exploding and spraying everywhere like the geyser.
But what is that smell!?! Everything stinks like a rotten egg! Well, there is something in the water called sulfur. Teeny, tiny bacteria like to eat that sulfur and produce a gas (hydrogen sulphide) that makes the air smelly. A good place for kids to check out these smelly features and for Dad to hide some gas of his own would be in the Upper Geyser Basin.
Tips for Things to do with Kids in Yellowstone: Do check out the timely eruption of Old Faithful geyser. (predicted eruption times are posted in the visitor center) It is an American icon. Don’t see Old Faithful and get back in your car. Walk the many boardwalks and paved paths in the area. Nearby Black Sand Basin, Biscuit Basin and West Thumb Geyser Basin have wonderful trails that allow you to see the best of Yellowstone without all the crowds. Biscuit Basin is one of my favorites. At the end of the boardwalk you can follow a trail for 1.5 miles to the 75 foot Mystic Falls. Steam rises from the sides of the waterfall as hot water springs meet the cold water of the stream.